Controversy exists as to whether women with depression respond better to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) than men. The purpose of this report was to determine whether men and women differ in their responses to treatment with the SSRI citalopram using a large sample of real world patients from primary and psychiatric specialty care settings.
As part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 2876 participants were treated with citalopram for up to 12-14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics and outcomes were gathered and compared between men and women.
At baseline, women were younger, had more severe depressive symptoms and were more likely to have: early onset; previous suicide attempt(s); a family history of depression, alcohol abuse or drug abuse; atypical symptom features; and one or more of several concurrent psychiatric disorders. Despite greater baseline severity and more Axis I comorbidities, women were more likely to reach remission and response with citalopram than men.
Women have a better response to the SSRI citalopram than men, which may be due to sex-specific biological differences particularly in serotonergic systems.